No, that’s not an N&W executive or Jim Anderson; it’s my grandfather, Harvey Gray Dudley, Sr. Daddy Harvey, despite his discipline, character, charisma and many talents, was restricted by racist policies at the Norfolk & Western Railway to work and pay as an entry-level laborer for his entire 40+ year career simply because he was African-American. I adored him. He is shown with grandsons Vernon, me and Skeetz in Portsmouth in 1946. Vernon seems to be doing a great impression of “Opie” long before that character was created for television.
Evelyn Majors Sears was the wife of my Dad’s 1st cousin, Ernest Sears. When they visited our home around 1955, I thought she and her three daughters, Candy, Sherry and India were very attractive. I told Aunt Evelyn that she looked like actress Phyllis Kirk, whom I had just seen in a movie. She seemed really flattered.
Great grandpa Ike Brooks was a farmer, church elder and legendary swimmer. He inherited parts of 1,000 acres of land that his free, mulatto father, Jerry Brooks, son of a slave and free woman, acquired in Crowders Mountain, North Carolina long before the Civil War began.
You won’t see black sailors in Hollywood’s “The Longest Day”, or television’s “McHale’s Navy”, but here you can see my uncle, Clifton Whitworth, Jr., who saw World War II action.. The military, movies and media wanted Americans to believe that only white men were brave warriors and patriots.
My all-black high school had four well-kept secrets. They were the above World War II pilots who received wings as Tuskegee Airmen. America defied logic by ignoring the patriotism and sacrifices of its literal and figurative black sheep squadron while absurdly featuring white fighter pilots as “black sheep” on television because of their off-duty foolish and feckless behaviors. Pictured L-R above are the school’s ignored black heroes from Virginia’s separate and unequal era - Lt. Col. Teddy Wilson, 2nd Lt. Leroi Williams, 1st Lt. Eugene Williams and 2nd Lt. Ralph Claytor. Leroi and Eugene Williams were brothers who were killed in separate air accidents. All four deceased black heroes were finally recognized city-wide in 2012, largely through my efforts, for service to their country - sixty seven years after the war ended.
Camelot - 1958
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